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Universal basic income (UBI) has been proposed as a policy to improve child development outcomes. Yet while no widespread UBI program exists, several Latin American countries have adopted conditional cash transfer (CCT). The conditions these programs attach to benefits generally pertain to child care and development, such as requiring school attendance or regular doctor visits. The programs have been successful: research shows that several factors used to measure child development (age-grade distortion, mental health, prospects for further education, etc.) improve in children from families that receive financial assistance. This might suggest that a UBI program would lead to more widespread and dramatic effects. However, a careful review of CCT research shows that improvements in child development are directly related to the required conditions in the CCTs. Countries looking to implement a “no strings attached” UBI to benefit child development might thus consider a more widespread CCT program instead.



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No Strings Attached? The Benefits of Conditional Cash Transfers on Child Development vs. a Universal Basic Income